My flatmate and I always made fun of “cracking the case” and the format prescribed to us by consulting pros – repeating question statement, asking for time to collect thoughts and drawing stuff for the interviewer. We had sworn that we wouldn’t do any mocks before our actual interviews until we got onto Preplounge. Now, we’re ODing on it like dope junkies since morning. We’ve been ticking like time bombs – one interview after another. There’s a ticker at the top of your browser that goes off once you start an interview and starts ticking again before you start the next.
A few months ago, one of the co-founders came to IESE and gave one of those promotional crack the case sessions and I’d forgotten about Preplounge after that until yesterday. I wanted to keep myself entertained while I was having dinner last night and I thought I should be more productive and decided to watch some videos of consulting case interviews (in the hope that I could be less guilty about going to this highly gamed interview process). Practice makes you perfect and the case interviews are no exception but the problem was that I somehow wasn’t willing to be tamed.
But what if the process of getting tamed in made fun? That’s what Preplounge does. You’ve a database of cases and partners you can meet online. You can pick your own partner from the list published on the website based on your time of convenience and you’ve to be an interviewer for one case and an interviewee for the next. Each case runs for about 45 minutes. The interface used to share case information and feedback is very user-friendly. You can either video/ audio chat with your partner while solving the case. They’ve a basic and premium membership (29Euros) which differs in terms of the number of cases and features you can access. The process is almost like running a case face to face with a friend except that you don’t need friends to practice cases. This takes away the huge cost (far greater than 29Euros) of having to make friends/ build relationships with fellow consulting aspirants from your own school who might have done 30 cases vs just 1 or 2 that you’ve done. People only like to fight someone their own size, so you can imagine why the cost is so high.
For close to zero cost, you find partners of varying levels of expertise on Preplounge who will partner with you to solve cases. Unlike in real life, people can’t really be fussy about fighting someone their own size because once you publish an open request and someone accepts it, cancelling that due to reasons like size mismatch will qualify you for a penalty. They have a reliability score that will drop if you decline/ cancel meetings for no apparent reason. This is incentive enough for people to be nice. The highly tamed ones might argue saying that this is a drawback (I sensed that through the tone of one of my interviewees who’d crossed the 50 mark), but the point is you actually don’t get better with practice. There is always an element of unpredictability depending on your frame of mind and that of your interviewers which is constantly changing. This also introduces some slack for people to get lucky even without practice.
Finally, being an interviewer today was an eye opener and I could completely appreciate why we were advised to follow certain guidelines in terms of confirming question statement, asking for time to think and make recommendations, etc because an interviewers are human too and tend to get distracted by thoughts of their own lives despite wanting to be in an interview 100% and they will not hear you in their own noise. So, unless you structure your thoughts, speak out loud and take them along with you, interviewing you will not be a pleasurable experience for them. Now, if it’s not been a pleasure even to interview you, why would someone want to work with you?